Rep. Earl Pomeroy continues to find himself in the spotlight as advocates urge him to support health reform and Republican opponents hammer him on the controversial issue.

Reform backers on Tuesday called on Pomeroy, D-N.D., to back the Democratic bill passed by the Senate and soon will go to the House.

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Mara Solberg, who farms with her husband south of Fargo, spoke at a telephone news conference urging passage of what proponents call affordable reform that would curb health insurance abuses -- and what critics call a costly government solution.

"Passing comprehensive reform is the right thing to do," said Solberg, whose husband had to take up full-time work off the farm 13 years ago to afford health coverage. "We're expecting Rep. Pomeroy to do the right thing."

Also Tuesday, Republicans kept up their drumbeat of criticism of Pomeroy, saying he should declare his support or opposition to the bill.

"Where is he going to end up on this issue?" asked Kevin Cramer, one of the Republicans seeking the nomination to try to unseat Pomeroy, who earlier supported the House health reform bill. "Will he stand with the majority of North Dakotans who oppose government-run health care?"

Despite voting earlier for the House bill, Pomeroy has said little so far about whether he would support the Senate bill, saying he is waiting for details to be ironed out.

During a radio appearance Tuesday morning on WDAY AM 970, Pomeroy said a bill would have to pass certain tests to win his vote: contain costs, expand coverage, impose insurance reform -- and be embraced by the public.

"In the end we work for the American people," Pomeroy said. "The broader question is what is a sustainable path for health reform."

Constituents remain sharply divided on the best path, with views across the political spectrum.

Groups pushing for reform include and Change that Works, which held the press conference featuring Solberg.

Solberg said she was released from the hospital early following a 2001 car accident because of pressures from her insurance company, which dictated her medical treatment.

"We just need to get it passed and work out the small details," she said.

Patrick Springer is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead which is owned by

Forum Communications Co.